The History of the
Wildcat Uniform
Page Five


2016 - 2019

2016 - 2019

In 2016, for the first time since the 2012 switch to Under Armour, NU made some adjustments to its standard uniforms.

JERSEY: The purple and white standard jerseys are very similar to the initial 2012 UA jerseys, with the following modifications:
  • The numbers are no longer patterned with the faint gray brickwork design. Instead, they are plain fabric. The purple jerseys still have white numbers on the chest, back and shoulders. However, the white jerseys have changed number colors. The chest and back numbers had been a very dark shade, nearly black. They are now flat black. The shoulder, or TV, numbers had been purple. They are now also black.
  • The collar is now a consistent color with the rest of the jersey (this is different from the retail replica jerseys, which have a Northwestern stripe design on the collar. The NU basketball jerseys also have a Northwestern stripe collar).
  • NU has dropped the "W.I.N." wordmark on the bottom of the jerseys (the replicas have kept it).
  • There is now a Northwestern stripe design on the sleeve ends. Unlike previous sleeve stripes, however, these stripes are vertical instead of horizontal.

HELMET: No major changes to NU's 1981 helmet design.  The front plate still has the "W.I.N." wordmark. While this technically remains NU's standard helmet, it has only been worn a couple of times. The team has used a series of alternate helmets instead (see below), using helmets with the 'Cat Head design half of the time. The black helmet with purple N is also used frequently.

The 2018 version of the standard helmet had a few minor modifications. The N is slightly larger, resembling the logo as it appeared on the helmets in the 1980s. The helmet color appeared to be a darker purple. The 'Cat head awards have been discontinued.

PANTS: The biggest change to the 2016 uniform is the addition of Northwestern stripes to the pants, just above the knee. Unlike most pants stripes, which are vertical, these are horizontal, and appear on the front of the pants. The black pants have purple stripes, as do the white pants. The purple pants have black stripes. Purple, black, and white are used interchangeably at home and on the road. The pants still feature a small Northwestern N on the left hip, but do not have the "Wildcats" wordmark on the back waist.

Here are the various uniform combinations used during 2016 through 2019. See the bottom of the page for the description of the alternate uniform components.

2016 Game Helmet Jersey
W. Mich. - Home Alt. White, Purple N Purple       
Ill. State - Home
Alt. Purple, Flag N Purple White
Duke - Home
Alt. Black, Purple N Purple Black
Nebraska - Home
Alt. Black, 'Cat Head Alt. Black
Iowa - Away
Alt. White, Purple N White
Michigan St. - Away
Alt. Purple, 'Cat Head White Purple
Indiana - Home
Alt. Purple, 'Cat Head Purple
Ohio State - Away
Alt. White, Black N White Black
Wisconsin - Home
Alt. Purple, 'Cat Head Alt. Graphite
Alt. Graphite
Purdue - Away
Standard Purple, White N White
Minnesota - Away
Alt. White, 'Cat Head
White White
Illinois - Home
Alt. Black, 'Cat Head Alt. Black Purple
Pitt - Pinstripe Bowl
Alt. Black, Purple N

2017 Game Helmet Jersey
Nevada - Home Alt. White, Purple N Purple    Purple    
Duke - Away
Alt. White, Chrome N White White
Bowling Green - Home
Alt. Black, Black N Alt. Black Alt. Graphite
Wisconsin - Away
Standard Purple, White N White Purple   
Penn State - Home
Standard Purple, White N Alt. Black Purple 
Maryland - Away
Alt. White, Black N White White
Iowa - Home
Alt. White, '62 TBack Purple
Michigan St. - Home
Alt. Black, P&G 'Cat Head Alt. Black
Nebraska - Away
Alt. White, 'Cat Head White Purple   
Purdue - Home
Alt. Purple, Flag N Alt. Graphite Alt. Graphite
Minnesota - Home
Alt. Black, Black NAlt. Black White
Illinois - Away
Alt. White, 'Cat Head White Alt. Graphite
Kentucky - Music City
Alt. Black, Purple N Purple Purple
2018 Game Helmet Jersey
Purdue - Away Alt. White, 'Cat Head White Alt. Graphite
Duke - Home
Alt. White, Flag N Alt. Graphite White
Akron - Home
Alt. Purple, Black N Alt. Black Black
Michigan - Home
Alt. Purple, 'Cat Head Purple White
Michigan St. - Away
Alt. Black, Purple N White Purple
Nebraska - Home
Alt. Black, Purple N Purple Black
Rutgers - Away
Alt. White, Purple N White Purple
Wisconsin - Home
Alt. Black, Purple N Alt. Graphite Black
Notre Dame - Home
Alt. White, '62 TBack Purple White
Iowa - Away
Alt. White, 2018 Camo White White
Minnesota - Away
Alt. Black, Purple NWhite Black
Illinois - Home
Standard Purple, White N Alt. Black
Ohio St. - B1G Title Game
Standard Purple, White N
White White
Utah - Holiday
Alt. Black, Holiday
White White

2019 Game Helmet Jersey
Stanford- Away Standard Purple, White N White Purple
UNLV - Home
Alt. Black, Purple N Purple Black
Michigan St. - Home
Alt. Black, Purple N Black Purple
Wisconsin - Away
Alt. Purple CFB150th Alt. White CFB150th
Alt. Purple CFB150th
Nebraska - Away
Alt. Black, Purple N White Black
Ohio State - Home
Alt. Gothic Black Alt. 2019 Gothic Black
Alt. 2019 Gothic Black
Iowa - Home
Standard Purple, White N Purple White
Indiana - Away
Alt. White, Purple N White Black
Purdue - Home
Alt. White, Flag N Purple White
UMass - Home
Standard Purple, White N Black Purple
Minnesota - Home
Alt. White, Purple NBlack Black
Illinois - Away
Alt. White, Purple N White White

2016-2019 Alternate Uniform Components

(For HTP's suggested uniform for
the 2018 NU-Notre Dame game,
click here)


JERSEY PATCHES: The Wildcats wore their standard purple jersey in both the 2016 Pinstripe and 2017 Music City Bowls, with the addition of a bowl patch on the left side of the chest. For the 2018 Holiday Bowl, the 'Cats wore their standard white jersey, with a Holiday Bowl patch on the left chest.

During the 2019 season, most teams are paying tribute to the 150th anniversary of intercollegiate football by wearing some version of the following patch. NU is wearing its patch on the right shoulder, between the shoulder numbers and the B1G logo on the right chest.

ALTERNATE BLACK 2016 JERSEY (ALT. BLACK): Similar to the alternate black jersey that NU wore occasionally during 2012 - 2015, with the same modifications made to NU's 2016 standard purple jersey.



  • For the September 24, 2016 game with Nebraska, the 'Cats wore a helmet sticker to honor the memory of Nebraska punter Sam Foltz. Foltz was killed in an auto accident in July 2016, along with MSU punter Mike Sadler.
  • For the 2016 Pinstripe Bowl, NU added a Chicago flag decal to the back of the helmet (as it did for the 2016 Outback Bowl). The team also wore this decal on the back of their helmets, to honor the late sportscaster Craig Sager, an NU alumnus:

  • During its 2017 game with Iowa, NU wore an alternate, throwback helmet to honor the 1962 Wildcat team. On the back of the helmet, the team also wore a helmet decal with the word "ARA" in purple and in the standard Morgan Poster font. The decal honored former coach Ara Parseghian, who died earlier in the year.
  • For the 2017 Music City Bowl, NU again added the Chicago flag decal, along with a Music City logo decal.
  • During the 2018 Holiday Bowl, the 'Cats wore the Chicago flag decal, as well as a winged Mercury decal. The Mercury decal was in honor of a slain Utah student, and both teams wore the decal.


  • Alt. White, Purple N: Introduced in 2013

  • Alt. Purple, Flag N: Introduced in 2011


  • Alt. Black, Purple N: Introduced in 2016, this new design is similar to the matte black helmet with the black N from 2013. Like the 2013 helmet, this has a chrome/silver outline on the N; however, this N is purple, not black. This is also similar to the 2014 Gothic helmet. The Gothic helmet, however, had a gold outline on the purple N. It also had striping and an image of the Arch on the back. The Alt. Black Purple N helmet has no stripes or image aside from the N logo.

  • Alt. Black, 'Cat Head: Introduced in 2012

  • Alt. Purple, 'Cat Head: New for 2016, this design is the purple version of the 2012 'Cat Head helmet.

  • Alt. White, Black N: The team's 13th alternate helmet since 2011, this helmet was introduced on October 29, 2016, in Columbus. It is similar to the white helmet with the purple N. However, this helmet has a black N with a chrome outline (similar to the decal on the Gator Bowl helmet) and a black faceguard.

  • Alt. White, 'Cat Head: Introduced in 2015

  • Alt. White, Chrome N: Introduced in 2017, at Duke


  • Alt. White, '62 TBack: Introduced in 2017, vs. Iowa. This throwback helmet is a tribute to the late Ara Parseghian's great 1962 team, 55 years after that team hit #1 in the nation. NU wore it again in 2018 vs. Notre Dame, another nod to 1962, and the last time that NU beat the Irish at Dyche Stadium.. The white helmet's black numbers are actually a little oversized, more resembling the Wildcat helmets of the mid-sixties than '62.

  • Alt. Black, P&G 'Cat Head: No, P&G doesn't stand for "Pride & Guts"; it's "Purple & Gold," the colors of the modified 'Cat Head logo on this helmet, introduced at the 2017 MSU game. Unlike the 2012 alternate black 'Cat Head helmet, which featured a chrome logo, this version features a shiny purple and gold copy of the oversized 'Cat with the odd lightning mark at the base.

  • Alt. White, Flag N: Introduced in 2015. The 2015 version, like most helmets during this period, had the "WIN" wordmark on the front bumber. However, when the 'Cats used this helmet again in 2018, it was strangely lacking the WIN bumper. Instead, the helmet had a red, standard Riddell logo on the front bumper. It's the only NU helmet during this period to feature Riddell's logo on the front bumper.
  • Alt. Purple, Black N: Introduced at the night home game vs. Akron in 2018, this is a new take on NU's classic helmet, now featuring a black Athletic N with a white border.
  • Alt. White, 2018 Camo: First worn during NU's Nov. 10 win at Iowa, this design honors Veterans Day. It features the Athletic N on the player's right, rendered in camoflage (tan, green, and... purple) with a purple outline. On the player's left is his number, in a stencil font, also rendered in camo with a purple outline. This is the third-ever NU helmet with different left and right-side designs.
  • Alt. Black, Holiday: Worn during the 2018 Holiday Bowl, this helmet has the same (player's) right side as the 2016 Alt. Black Purple N helmet design. However, the player's left side features the player number, in modified Morgan Poster font, purple with the same chrome outline as the N logo on the right side.

2016-19 Alternate Total Uniforms

2016-17 Graphite Uniform (Alt. Graphite)

For its 2016 home game vs. Wisconsin, NU unveiled a new alternate uniform, the Graphite, featuring gray versions of NU's standard jerseys and pants.

HELMET: The team initially announced that it would wear the 2015 white helmet with oversized 'Cat Head with the Graphite unis. However, two days before the game NU switched helmets, going with the 2016 purple version of the 'Cat Head helmet.

For the 2017 Purdue game (played on Veterans Day), NU wore the Graphite unis with its 2011 Flag helmet. However, the 2011 Flag helmet was slightly modified for this game: it had a grey facemask, to match the uniform, and the Flag N decal was slightly different from earlier versions (metallic finish, silver outline, star field on right side of N for decals worn on the helmet's right side).

JERSEY: The gray version of the NU jersey is very similar to the standard uniform: a purple Northwestern stripe on the chest and back and the Northwestern wordmark in Morgan Poster Avec. However, the white numerals have a purple outline.

PANTS: Also standard format except for the color, the Graphite pants are gray, with a purple N on the left hip and purple Northwestern stripes on the thighs.


2019 College Football 150th Anniversary Tribute Uniform (CFB150th)

2019 marked the 150th anniversary of the Princeton vs. Rutgers game, considered the first intercollegiate football game. Several teams, including Northwestern, celebrated the milestone by sporting special throwback uniforms.

Northwestern's tribute uniform (which will be worn vs. Wisconsin) is not a throwback in the strict sense: it is "inspired" by early NU uniforms.

HELMET: The helmet is actually a new design: a purple shell, featuring a single white stripe. The side logo is "NU" in plain block letters.

JERSEY: The concept is supposed to mimic NU's earliest football jerseys. However, NU's jerseys in the 1880s and early '90s did not have front numbers, and they sported the "NWU" abbreviation used by the school at that time. The new jersey sports "NU" in block letters instead; Northwestern in the 21st century would never use "NWU" on its gear.

PANTS: Like the helmet and jersey, the pants look retro, but have never been worn by the team. They are plain purple with a large, plain "N" on the left hip.


2019 Gothic Uniform (Alt. 2019 Gothic)

For the first time since 2015-- and, surprisingly, for only the third time ever-- the football team wore its gothic uniform. The 2019 version was a little different from the 2014 and '15 versions.

HELMET: Virtually identical to the 2014-15 Gothic helmet.


JERSEY: The biggest change in the 2019 gothic jersey appears to be the sleeve stripes. On the previous gothic versions, the Northwestern stripe was above the sleeve's N and was shaped like an arch. On the new jersey the stripes are beside the N. The brick and ivy pattern appears more pronounced on the sleeve. The gothic font "Northwestern" wordmark appears to be the same.

PANTS:Totallly new pants design for the 2019 Gothic uniform. While the old version had the ivory and brickwork pattern on the back of the legs, the 2019 Gothic pants are plain black with no pattern, featuring a gold UnderArmour logo and a purple N with a gold outline on the left hip.